The other star of the book, Mike's partner Christina, has liberally sprinkled these accounts with beautiful black-and-white illustrations which uniquely capture the character of the flora and fauna therein. As the day-to-day living essentials slowly began to be unpacked we at last began to make some progress in turning the house from a warehouse into some kind of home. Filled with Dilger's trademark enthusiasm, this is definitely a book for the wildlife enthusiast, but it's not just birds and mammals. A difficult book to put down. Customer Reviews Biography Mike Dilger is an enthusiastic naturalist and freelance presenter. This book is the story of his first proper garden, and the year he spent turning it from a neglected spot to a wildlife haven. I also think the book could have done with at least some form of introduction.
From the outside the pebble-dashed facade smeared over concrete-block walls bore more than a passing resemblance to the colour of boiled shite; and with a combination of pine-panelling, hideously dated wallpaper and marigold-coloured walls, the interior offered little improvement. Feeling satisfied that we now had a healthy to-do list of hard and soft landscaping tasks, the only other pressing concern would be when to carry out the work. After much cross-examination, however, the prosecution Christina eventually relented and agreed to wait and see how they turned out before making any decisions about their future. And so begins their year-long journey to create their very own wildlife sanctuary. However, taking everything into consideration, and with heavy hearts, we agreed that the garden would be better served in the long term if the rowan were removed. I would have liked to have known more about where he grew up, and what kind of gardens he might have had in his life and what wildlife he was used to , just as a lead in to why he was so excited about this one. The house had also been sitting empty for the best part of a year, often not one of the best of signs.
From otters to badgers, chickens to hedgehogs, an orchard, a pond and compost bins, to the best birdlife imaginable, what began as a straightforward mission soon became the adventure of a lifetime. From otters to badgers, chickens to hedgehogs, an orchard, a pond and compost bins, to the best birdlife imaginable, what began as a straightforward mission soon became the adventure of a lifetime. On our second viewing, endless possibilities as to how I could turn the garden into that mini nature reserve I yearned for began to run through my mind. The proximity of Mike's new home to Chew Valley Lake ensure that he has some juicy garden ticks, including and. I would heartily recommend this book to anyone. Twelve chapters, each a month long, frame the book and lend not only structure, but a certain amount of dip-in-and-out-ability. I don't have a garden but I imagine this would be a great book if you are considering how to attract wildlife to your garden.
After the best part of forty years spent either living under his parents' roof, in the tropical rainforests of three continents, a vast array of student digs or most recently a one-bedroom flat, The One Show's Mike Dilger has at last bought a house - and with it, a potentially glorious garden. Our section of the brook happened to join our property at the head of a large meander, meaning that the water met the garden at an angle before caressing the bank for a 10-yard stretch and retreating away again at a tangent. Having moved in on Monday 31 January, it was the following weekend before we were even able to surface for air and actually carve out some garden time. The year starts in January with the purchase of a slightly ramshackle dwelling, and crucially a long-neglected large garden terminating with a promising brook. As in any garden, the months of March to June are probably the most exciting as the animals and plants respond to the coming of Spring and Summer.
The delight Dilger shows in his pond is pretty inspiring, making me want to immediately go outside and dig one for myself. Each month brings with it seasonable wildlife. With big, bucket hands the texture of sandpaper, Andy was patently not someone who whiled away his professional life shuffling papers behind a desk; this was a man with a van, a man with technical ability and therefore someone worth cultivating a friendship with! In fact, all I have managed to do is remind myself of just how wonderful it is to share a space with nature, and boy, am I jealous. Contemplating the gravitas of what we had just taken on, my mood was instantly lightened as I spotted the first basal rosettes of primroses, pushing their way up exactly where I had planned the meadow to be! After much debate we decided that it might not be a lost cause, but would need a ferocious short back-and-sides and total retraining to be given a fighting chance of making the grade. Be prepared to feel inspired, and be warned about the envy hobbies over the garden, bats in the garage , then make sure you stay well away from the garden centre for the next few weeks - unless you want to bankrupt yourself.
To be fair, Andy also genuinely seemed thrilled by this find, declaring that he had never seen one before, and for me, back once again on the more comfortable subject of garden bird ecology rather than the intricacies of building regulations, I was able to give Andy a brief, impromptu lecture on the life history of the reed bunting. First Paperback Edition, First Printing. I think I was hoping to remind myself how much back-breaking work a large garden brings with it, or the perils of battling bird-food-happy rats, or some other vaguely unhappy experiences. From our very first visit, I had envisaged the water course, with the remarkably unprepossessing name of Strode Brook, as the ace in our deck of wildlife cards. Some time ago I swapped a beautiful and very wildlife-packed garden for a nasty city flat with not as much as a window-box. From otters to badgers, chickens to hedgehogs, an orchard, a pond and compost bins, to the best birdlife imaginable, what began as a straightforward mission soon became the adventure of a lifetime. After the best part of forty years spent either living under his parents' roof, in the tropical rainforests of three continents, a vast array of student digs or most recently a one-bedroom flat, The One Show's Mike Dilger has at last bought a house - and with it, a potentially glorious garden.
The ever-practical Christina proceeded to open up the house and take the lads on a guided tour, pointing out which boxes were to be deposited where, which gave me the chance to excuse myself from the hustle and bustle for just a moment so that I could take in the garden through an entirely new set of eyes. There's plenty to interest birders. Despite the feature looking like it needed a clear-out, as I could barely see any standing water for plants, Andy informed me, with immense pride, that both he and Lorraine regularly came down with a cuppa to watch both frogs and newts surfacing for a gulp of air before disappearing back down below to carry on with their aquatic shenanigans. To make the moment even more special, it was not only being sung by my favourite songbird, but the individual in question had decided to belt out its mellifluous, strident and instantly recognisable song from the top of the oak tree, our oak tree, making it our song thrush! Secondly, enticing frogs and newts into both our garden and the pond I would be creating later would surely be much easier if they only needed to travel a matter of a few yards across herbaceous border, rather than risk the perilous journey across acres of concrete and decking under the watchful eye of any number of predators. Undoubtedly a townie born and bred, this would be my first attempt at living in the country.
In March we get a passing lesson on the ecology of bumblebees, in June the moth-trap is put to good use, in August we learn about bat-droppings and in September how to make a fish-trap out of a discarded lemonade bottle. Having birded, botanized and entomologised in a huge range of countries, he has accumulated an encyclopaedic knowledge of British and South American wildlife and a strong familiarity with the nature of Vietnam and Tanzania. There is a wealth of information here, sure to spur anyone with a hint of a passing interest into trying some of it out: I've decided to set a camera trap on the local urban foxes, proving that this isn't just a book for people with large rural gardens. Now his opportunity has come, and Mike is determined to make the most of it. From otters to badgers, chickens to hedgehogs, an orchard, a pond and compost bins, to the best birdlife imaginable, what began as a straightforward mission soon became the adventure of a lifetime. First to come under our scrutiny was a mature but hideously deformed wisteria, sprawled across the central half of the garage wall. The lawn and shrubs in his new garden initially look tired and unloved, but 'potential' was definitely the one word that sprung to mind the very first time Mike and his partner Christina viewed their new 'house-and-garden-to-be' in the small rural village of Chew Stoke, some eight miles south of Bristol.
It being a cold, wintery day, the local bird community was indeed piling in to his refuelling stations, and even without my trusty binoculars, in the matter of just a couple of minutes I was able to point out the usual cast of characters including great tit, blue tit, chaffinch, robin and dunnock. We arrived at our new house just a couple of minutes after the removals lorry had pulled up on the drive — our drive. I hope there is a book two waiting in the wings as I would be first in the queue for that! Even though the house was of cheap construction and stuck in a 1970s time warp, we had always declared this to be of little concern, as the real reason behind making the huge financial leap of faith had been the bell-bottom-jeans-shaped garden at the rear. From otters to badgers, chickens to hedgehogs, an orchard, a pond and compost bins, to the best birdlife imaginable, what began as a straightforward mission soon became the adventure of a lifetime. An excellent book for the garden wildlife enthusiast, the book gives numerous ideas for wildlife gardening projects. Talking in a thick Bristolian accent, which I have come to adore since moving to this part of the world, this blonde, super-slim mum of three was someone for whom talking was obviously a passion — what a chatterbox! Despite the fact that the vast majority of gardens often tend to be petite, they need not necessarily be lacking in either interesting species or biological diversity.